On Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. sharp, Sony took the stage to unveil its next generation video game console: the Playstation 4. Nearly two hours later, the company was still describing the thing. No joke. There's literally so much going on with the PS4 that Sony exec after Sony exec put on a microphone to tell the audience in New York about some strange, new, often intriguing but seldom mind-blowing feature. Sony Computer Entertainment president and CEO Andrew House was first. "The living room is no longer the center of the PlayStation universe," he said. "The gamer is."
This is not a novel idea. Remember 2006 when Time Magazine named you Person of the Year? But many aspects about Sony's execution in the PS4 are. In a matter of speaking, it takes the best features of mobile and PC gaming, smashes them together with the coolest features of the competing consoles, slaps a Sony logo on it and calls it "the most personalized gaming experience available today... the most powerful platform ever." Brown added, "We're revealing the genesis of an idea about an ever-expanding idea of play."
To be fair, he did warn the audience that they were going to be sitting there for two hours. And two hours later, Sony closed the presentation without showing what the console actually looks like, telling them how much it costs or revealing a release date. (Surely it'll be out by Christmas.) With a list of features like this, though, who cares what color the box is.
This is the easy part. Without exaggerating, it's fair to say that Sony went for the Cadillac in terms of picking processors and pixel-generators. The PS4 comes with a "supercharged" x86 CPU, an enhanced 8-core PC processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM. That's twice as much memory than the baseline model of the latest MacBook Pro line. This means that the PS4 can crank out 4K resolution (think: ultra high definition or 1080p times four) and can do stereoscopic 3D in 1080p resolution. As CNN Money's Adrian Covert puts it, "That means it'll likely be ready for the next five to 10 years of living room display technology." Sound overwhelming? We're only getting started.
If you've seen one Playstation controller, you've seen them all. It's kind of alien-like with the protruding grips on either side and the circle/square/triangle/X buttons. The fourth generation DualShock controller is no exception, but there's more than meets the eye. The new controller comes with a touchpad built into the center and a new share button that lets you share gameplay with a friend — more on that in second. On the top of the controller is a color-changing light bar that communicates with a camera on the console. This allows the PS4 to track your motions, much like the Microsoft Kinect or Nintendo Wii. You know how instead of pushing the A button, your mom used to move the controller so that Mario would jump over holes back in the 80s? Now that actually works.
So about that Share button. The PS4 plugs into a jacked up Playstation Network that's equipped for everything from streaming entire games to hijacking your friends' games. By pressing that share button on the controller, you can broadcast your game to friends. They can send messages to your screen. They can even take over your controller and play your game for you. It's all mobile, too, so you can access your Playstation profile from your smartphone.
This is where it gets really cool. The new PS4 architecture and streaming gaming enables you to start a game at home on your console and pick it back up on your handheld Playstation VITA from across town. In other words, YOU NEVER HAVE TO STOP PLAYING VIDEO GAMES. Over the network you can also watch your friends play games and upload clips of your gameplay to Ustream, because apparently gamers like to watch others game.
The one thing that the Playstation 4 cannot do is play Playstation 3 games. Not yet anyways.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.